The remaining bit of snow left on the ground in Surrey could be melting quicker these days if things continue to heat up between CUPE and City Councillor Tom Gill.
In a letter sent to Gill on January 7th, CUPE demands he apologize to them for comments he made about the possibility of privatizing snow removal services in Surrey. Laurie Larsen, President of CUPE 402 states:
"Our City staff gave up a lot to clear our streets and the last thing they needed was a Councillor saying “it wasn’t done fast enough”. Perhaps the Councillor could volunteer to work without a break for 20 days just to have someone say “it wasn’t good enough or fast enough” and then be expected to work 12 hour shifts again to relieve the flooding conditions that are now occurring."
"The Union is expecting a formal written apology from Councillor Gill. Although he did reference the staff doing “a commendable job”, he certainly lost the Union’s respect for his further comments in the media.
I wonder if he realizes that while he sat at home with his wife and children on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day, and celebrated the New Year on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day that City crews had not had a day off since December 13. I wonder if he realized that each driver had been working either a 4 AM to 4 PM shift or a 4 PM to 4 AM shift since December 13 to keep all the main roads clear so that his family could enjoy Christmas, New Year’s, shopping and visiting, while these crews hardly even had a chance to celebrate Christmas or see their family and friends."
In a letter obtained by CityCaucus.com, Gill responds to the union by stating:
"...if any apologies are due Ms. Larsen, they are not to you, but rather to the residents of Surrey. Forgive me for carrying the conviction to speak on behalf of all our seniors, sick, elderly, persons with disabilities, young school aged children and let us not forget the average working man and woman who lost pay as a result of not being able to navigate through the snow to get to work."
"I have to say, I read your letter to the editor with mixed emotions. At first, your use of words such as “disappointed, disrespectful, ridiculous” and expectations of a formal apology not only caused me surprise but also distress."
"Ms. Larsen, please do not presume to know how I feel about the staff at the City of Surrey. At city hall, we share a common goals and a level of civility and genuine respect for all."
I would say there is somewhat of a difference of opinion on this one. Our Surrey correspondent will be watching this one to see if things boil over in the coming days. Stay tuned.